Shirley Ballas speaks out on whether Bruno Tonioli will judge Strictly 2020

The Strictly head judge has shone further light whether the Italian dancer will feature on the 2020 series

Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli

After reports claiming the contrary, it looks like Bruno Tonioli may be going to the Strictly Come Dancing ball after all.

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Shirley Ballas, head judge on the BBC entertainment show, has said her fellow judge will appear on the upcoming series, if travel guidelines allow.

“They are again rumours, so it will be according to the flights,” she recently said on TalkRadio.

“If he can get backwards and forwards safely but knowing Bruno and he’s such an amazing man, he will do everything in his power not to let the British public down.”

Previously reports aroused fears Tonioli, who lives in the US, would be unable to appear at all on the show due to travel restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic.

Tonioli – who has appeared in every series of Strictly Come Dancing since the show started in 2004 – also sits on the panel of US series Dancing with the Stars, requiring him to fly between London and LA every week. This travel would not be possible under the current UK rules, which require anyone entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days.

However, these quarantine laws are reviewed every three weeks and may be sufficiently relaxed when Strictly returns at a date later in the year (yet to be decided).

Of course, even if the rules are not relaxed Tonioli could return to Strictly, going into self-isolation before the series begins. This would, however, mean he wouldn’t be able to appear on Dancing with the Stars.

If Tonioli is unable to appear on Strictly Come Dancing, there are rumours of a potential replacement: Cheryl, star of The X Factor and BBC’s The Greatest Dancer.

“If Cheryl does end up doing it there would be nothing wrong with that. She’s a lovely girl. I like her,” Tonioli told The Sun.

“Of course she’s not me, but we’re all different. We all have different things to offer but I’ve heard nothing concrete.”

Cheryl (Getty)

He added: “For years and years I’ve spent two days of each week on the plane flying between London and LA.

“Under normal circumstances, I take a deep breath and do the travel. I love the show and love to do it and normally I’m destroyed by Christmas, but this year is different for everyone.

“Under the current restrictions they just won’t allow it. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Although the team have started pre-production on the show (via the help of video conferencing), it’s unclear when the series may air. However, the BBC has said viewers can expect a “shorter” series of Strictly with a smaller celebrity line-up.

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Strictly Come Dancing will return later this year. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide